Spicy Zine: The Latest Blend of Empowerment and Expression
Spicy Zine, an online zine and creative collective empowering WoC + QTPoC with the ultimate goal of decolonizing the media, recently hosted their launch party and Museache was among the joyous spirits that attended.
The air was damp and foggy as the Museache family (with Rughda in spirit) mobilized to Spicy Zine’s launch party in Brooklyn. By the time we arrived at Ghost Gallery, things were in full swing. The energy of the gallery was free flowing as the crowd shifted between grabbing wine and taking squad photos in front of the delicately painted Spicy Bumper photobooth. It seemed like the start of New York Fashion Week brought out the best garments from everyone. The layout of the venue was an unconventional geometric shape, yet weirdly intimate. Laughter and conversations skipped along the walls inviting you to stop and engage with almost everyone you passed by.
We were immediately greeted by our old friend and Spicy Zine editor, Meena. She guided us down the hallway, which featured mural paintings, a palm reader, free spicy swag, and of course ushered us through doorways that led to the dance floor. We reached Priya, Spicy’s founder and orchestrator, as she was cheerfully describing Spicy’s recent growth to a guest. She donned a Spicy Red suit jacket and matching pants, with a honey dijon mustard colored French hat to complete the ensemble. After some quick formalities with the Museache crew, she jumped back into the role of event host and we began to filter throughout the launch party.
Spicy Red was the official color and mood of the gallery+dance room. While people danced, others perused the diverse art installations that covered the walls and ceilings. There was also a ladder in the middle of room that led to unofficial smokers lounge.
After about two hours of dancing like no was watching to DJ Crys Cross and marinating on the exhibitions, we got a chance to chat with three of the unique minds on the Spicy team: Priya, Nikki, and Snikka. By this point, the party had spilled in every nook of the gallery. We zig zagged through the crowd and moved upstairs to the rooftop, which had turned into a misty oasis for a few clusters of smokers and some of our dance floor partners who were trying to cool off. After a brief moment of exchanging gratitudes, we began talking about how Spicy was able to make it off the idea shelf and morph into what is now: An online zine and creative collective powered by women of color and queer + trans people of color.
After finishing school at Boston University, Priya moved to NYC and started the 9-5 life, but something was off. The opportunities for her creativity to ignite kept on getting extinguished. Out of that frustration and restriction Spicy Zine was born. Priya shared, “I had this idea while at a Ghost Gallery event back in June and then I just kept on thinking about. I could have started a personal blog, but this felt bigger. I am writer, and I don’t graphic design or do photography. So if I was really going to do this, I knew it couldn’t be done alone.”
Priya tapped in to her creative network from all over NYC, the DMV, and Boston and assembled her multifaceted team. Nikki, who reached out to us before the event, is the PR and social media guru. Snikka, who recently published her Dynamic Desi photo series focused on the “ethereal, yet grounded” experiences of growing up South Asian American, serves as the lead photographer. At the time of the launch event, the core team was about 13 members strong and growing with new contributors reaching out everyday. They all connected on having the same grievances of living in a white heteronormative America and that became the catalyst that set the ball in motion.
Photographer: Nikki Freyermuth aka ‘Snikka’
Models: Fabliha Anbar (18), Meenakshi Parashar (22), Riya Varma (21), Tahia
In the middle of our conversation, someone handed Snikka a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, that soon disappeared because who could resist? Nikki picked up where Priya left off, “We just wanted to spotlight the people who are surviving in America because that in itself is a feat, especially in a system that is inherently against us.”
Although, Spicy ZIne is cultivating space and platform for women of color and queer/trans people of color, they still have every intention of keeping it open for everyone to enter and learn. This falls right in line with their vision, which the trio continued to reference throughout our conversation.
“A lot of people who are not you tell your stories. Spicy is the space for YOU to retell your story.” – Nikki
While the new team will be faced with some challenges such as maneuvering the zine business and staying consistent, they’ve laid down a solid internal structure and mainly by word of mouth, gained a group of true supporters. There is a permeating eagerness to see the creators that will be highlighted in the upcoming months and how the digital Zine will continue hosting radical spaces for WOC & QTPOC.
Towards the end of our chat, we floated some questions about the physical zine, and that sent moodboards and design ideas of the final product flashing across Snikka’s eyes. With a full smile she said: “We will be gathering so many different resources in the next months and we’re going to create something amazing!”
Spicy is plotting to publish their first printed zine sometime in September of this year, with the hopes to publish two issues each year. Until then follow the team as they continue to water their online family and decolonize minds through different artistic formats and events.